Friday, December 13, 2013

South African Baritone Njabulo Madlala Sings Traditional Songs, Western Compositions and 'Deep River' on 'Songs of Home' from Champs Hill Records

Songs of Home; Njabulo Madlala, baritone; William Vann, piano; Champs Hill Records CHRCD071 (2013)

Njabulo Madlala

Njabulo Madlala

Champs Hill Records
"South African baritone and 2010 Kathleen Ferrier Award-winner Njabulo Madlala makes his debut on Champs Hill Records."

In a Foreword to the liner notes of his new CD, Songs of Home, Njabulo Madlala writes:

"Songs of home is a reflection of a journey from the townships of South Africa to the world of classical music and song. It is inspired by the South African songbook and songs my Grandmother sang, songs I heard and took to bed with me every night, songs I heard from Miriam Makeba, Sibongile Khumalo and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.  This CD showcases the intense beauty of music. The unique harmonies and rhythms of Africa meeting those of Schubert, Schumann and Strauss. The click sounds spoken by the Zulu and Xhosa people of South Africa meeting English composers Vaughan Williams, Howells and Quilter.  This is a life's journey without boundaries."

"That moment of rapt silence and attention, when an audience is entirely transfixed by a musician’s artistry, is rare at the best of times — let alone in the middle of a competition. But it happened in the finals of this year’s Kathleen Ferrier Awards, when the South African baritone, Njabulo Madlala, riveted every listener in the hall with his musical storytelling in Schumann’s dramatic ballad, Belsazar." [The Times]

"an amazingly resonant and vibrant voice with lovely dark undertones" [Planet Hugill]

Songs of Home is a remarkable blend of traditional African songs, European art songs and one African-American spiritual.  The recording welcomes the listener with a warm and engaging tone, from the very first song, a traditional African tune called Thula Sizwe.  The singer translates its lyrics:

Be Still My Country
Be still my country, do not cry.
Your Jehova will conquer for you
Freedom is nearly here
Freedom, Jehova will conquer for you.

The generous booklet of liner notes provides the complete lyrics in both native languages and English.  The second song title is Malaika (My Angel), followed by When The Sun Goes Down and Hush Sleep Little Baby.  Songs 5, 6 and 7 are by Richard Strauss and translate to All Souls' Day, Secret Invitation, and Tomorrow! Songs 8 and 9 are by Franz Schubert.  Their English titles are Love's Message and Wanderer's Nightsong II.  Song 10 is traditional and means Hush Treasure in English.  The remaining composers are Robert Schumann, Roger Quilter, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Herbert Howells.  The recording concludes with five traditional songs, including the African-American spiritual Deep River.

Baritone Njabulo Madlala's Songs of Home on Champs Hill Records is a refined and sophisticated debut album which blends South African and Western cultures and languages into a seamless program.  The disc has retained its appeal through numerous hearings.  We heartily recommend it. 

Disclosure: A review copy of this recording was provided by the record label. 

Titles from website of Champs Hill Records

1. Trad. [03:31]
Thula Sizwe

2. William, Fadhili [03:38]

3. Davache, Mackay [02:24]

4. Trad. [04:10]
Thula baba... Thula sana

5. Strauss, Richard [03:17]

6. Strauss, Richard [03:39]
Heimliche aufforderung

7. Strauss, Richard [04:04]

8. Schubert, Franz [02:51]

9. Schubert, Franz [02:24]
Wandrers Nachtlied II

10. Trad. [03:28]
Thula gugu lami

11. Schumann, Robert [05:24]

12. Schumann, Robert [01:48]
Du bist wie eine blume

13. Trad. [02:34]
Thula s'thandwa sami

14. Quilter, Roger [02:56]
Go Lovely Rose

15. Quilter, Roger [01:42]
O mistress mine

16. Vaughan-Williams, Ralph [02:38]
Linden Lea

17. Vaughan-Williams, Ralph [01:59]
Let beauty awake

18. Howells, Herbert [04:54]
King David

19. Trad. [02:38]
Deep River

20. Trad. [01:42]
Baxabene oxamu

21. Trad. [02:52]

22. Trad. [03:00]

23. Trad. [02:53]
Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika

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